Peace Spokes - Peace Coffee

  1| Construction to Coffee

  2| Harvest Update

  3| A Coffee-Flavored Haiku

  4| Roaster's Corner

  5| Quote of the Month

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We're totally pumped! After many months of dedicated hard work by the Peace Crew and our amazing construction partners and artist collaborators (thank you all!), the coffee shop doors are finally open. When you arrive at the shop, located in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, you'll find so many funky, wonderful things inside that we're offering a "treasure hunt" to all the sights and tastes in this issue of Peace Spokes. Use it as a handy guide when you stop by the shop so you don't miss anything! Also in this issue, Anna Canning reports on how the challenging weather conditions in Central America and Mexico are affecting our farmer partners. And we've got a reader-contributed, coffee-themed haiku and a Roaster's Corner update from Keith. Grab a cup of seasonal Snowshoe Brew (or any of our fine coffees) and read on...

by Anna Canning, Peace Coffee Project Manager

We're Open!

After months of preparation, we opened the doors of our coffee shop with little fanfare early on the morning of November 8th. A week of dress rehearsal behind us, we declared that we were open for business Saturday morning. It's been a fantastic odyssey to get to the moment when our barista placed a cup of coffee into our first customer's hands, and we have been truly amazed by the outpouring of support. Behind just about each fixture, each panel, each brushstroke there's a story, often a neighbor, and a debt of gratitude for helping us craft a space whose attention to detail and craftsmanship match the care that goes into our coffee from farmer to roasting team to barista crew. Our beans have found the perfect home!

There's not space enough here to tell each story, but use this little guide as a "Treasure Hunt" around the shop. We hope you'll come in soon and see for yourself!

The Treasure Hunt

Menu Board:

When stumbling through broken glass in an unlit, abandoned factory, most people wouldn't give the old fire doors coated in crumbling green-brown paint a second glance, but that's part of why we've liked working with local metal artist/sculptor/builder /designer extraordinaire Adam Croft. His imagination and craft transformed someone else's pile of junk into the clean lines of our menu board. When contemplating the menu board, look up for another of his creations, morphing bike parts into our own little celestial sphere/chandelier.


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by Anna Canning, Peace Coffee Project Manager

Here in Minneapolis, all but the last hangers-on of the leaves have fallen from the trees and we're hunkering down for the frigid half of the year. Meanwhile, thousands of miles south of here in the highlands of Guatemala, months of daily rains have given way to the flush of jasmine-scented blossoms that grow into coffee cherries. Just as we've stored all the squash that we’ll be getting 'til next fall, those cherries now setting on the branches represent all the coffee that we'll be drinking from May of next year until the following year’s harvest comes around.

Months ago, our Coffee Manager, Keith, began tallying up the beans that we'd need for the coming year. Those tallies get parsed into contracts with the farmer groups that we buy from, allowing them to plan how many of their premium beans to set aside for us. Much as you might do with a CSA for your summer vegetables, we sign contracts to allow farmers to forecast, and fund, their sales long before the beans we hope to buy have begun to form on the trees. Most years, the deal works out well — farmers who have been tending their land for a long time know how their plot yields and good co-op managers have the records to compile those numbers into accurate predictions of available coffee.

But recent harvest seasons, and this one in particular, have seen the best plans stymied by bad weather in communities that we buy from throughout Central America and Mexico. The stories vary, but the common theme is lower yields: Unheard of amounts of rain, too much, too little, wrong times, roads swept away at crucial times in the harvest cycle--all are far too prevalent. While the mudslides in Guatemala last spring are perhaps the most dramatic example, our producer partners are encountering challenging and unprecedented changes in the weather.

Years of investment and education have endeavored to increase the yields of organic coffee farming. Such increases are crucial to long-term sustainable livelihoods for small-scale farmers, yet untoward weather patterns are creating huge challenges to these goals. We're working closely with our producer partners to understand the implications of harvests such as this season's, and the ways in which we can best fulfill both our shorter term coffee needs and our long-term relationships. While we don't anticipate any interruptions in our overall supply of excellent coffee, we're concerned about the larger picture of these challenges and how, over the next generations, small-scale coffee farmers, and farmers everywhere, will be forced to grapple with what seem to be increasingly volatile weather conditions. There are no easy answers to these issues, but as we begin gathering our bags for the coming season's round of trips to origin, we're packing plenty of questions with our hiking boots.

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We received this haiku from Aych Wayne of Minneapolis and knew we had to pass it on to our Peace Spokes readers. Thanks, Aych!

Good morning lovely
I am holding your darkness
This concerns coffee

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by Keith Tomlinson

Last month in this spot, I mentioned that our final quarterly coffee of the year was to be a selection from a new organization in Bolivia. Unfortunately some of the harvest challenges referred to above have compounded with other logistical difficulties and we’ll only be featuring the Bolivian by the cup in the coffee shop.  Stop in and taste it there if you're in the area — it's a lovely example of a mild coffee, a lightly sweet, balanced cup with notes of tamarind, citrus and a hint of cashew.

For those of you unable to stop by the shop, we'd steer you towards our Colombian Heavy Pedal: We’re just dipping into the first of the summer's harvest from the Fondo Paez co-op and it's a tasty lot of beans!

We hope to be able to meet the Bolivian coffee again in the next harvest cycle and for now, we're looking forward to several other pending partnerships that promise to yield good coffee in the coming year.

Cheers, Keith

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"I orchestrate my mornings to the tune of coffee."

~ Harry Mahtar

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Peace Spokes is a monthly publication from the crew at Peace Coffee.
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